The beginner’s guide to applying to study abroad in 4 simple steps
“I can’t make it tonight, see you July 2016?”
The more I find myself saying this to people, the more it sinks in that I am about to live in Sydney FOR A YEAR! I’ve never even been out of Europe and the furthest move I’ve made is 40 minutes from Edinburgh to Glasgow… I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified but this is totally outweighed by excitement. I’m going to spend the next year studying Law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and plan on sharing my experience with you (which will hopefully be entertaining as well as helpful if you’re planning on applying to study abroad).
As thrilled as I am to be going away, I have finally collected my official ‘ambassador hoodie’ so thought I’d start my blog with a beginner’s guide to the application.
In my opinion there are four steps:
- Deciding if the study abroad programme is the right decision
- Choosing where you really want to study and live for a year
- Research and get writing
A chance to meet other students who had been on this amazing experience already, and failing that an opportunity to take advantage of free wine and nibbles…! Wine aside, the night totally inspired me as to what third year could offer and lead to becoming part of the Study Abroad buddy scheme to meet more people and become more involved!
It didn’t take a lot of persuading – a few stories about living on the beach, embracing a new culture and meeting such a variety of new people, and I was obsessed. Second year had hardly begun and yet third year quickly became my new addiction: constantly comparing universities worldwide and agonizing over endless study abroad and travel blogs
This is the hard part. Deciding where you want to study.
Of course everyone has different techniques for this: some look to see which universities have the best conversion rate for grades to ensure they get the best chance of getting a first in honours as possible, finding somewhere similar to Scotland so as to adjust well, looking at flights home and finding somewhere easily accessible and close for people to visit…
I didn’t do this.
Instead, I chose the furthest possible destination that I had been advised had a much harder work load for law than Glasgow. But I would be living on the other side of the world in one of the most stunning and exciting countries ever. A 20 minute walk to the beach and a short flight away from Fiji, Bali…islands of paradise. For me, Australia was the only place I could imagine myself living for a year (aside from Glasgow).
Sydney was an easy choice, but the real dilemma was between the two universities there: University of Sydney and University of New South Wales. UoS is central but what appealed to me about UNSW was the 20-minute walk to the beach, the on campus halls and the more suburban vibe. I love living in the West End of Glasgow rather than in town so hopefully I will similarly adjust to the suburbs of Sydney!
After making my decision, I had the online application to complete.
You get a fair bit of time and I found it easy to arrange a meeting with Seonaid to discuss options and get advice. The application was due around exam time, which was stressful. Considering how much time you get it is definitely a good idea to give yourself a fair bit of time to do research. There is a personal statement type section and then also a financial plan for each of your chosen universities. The more detailed you can be with this the stronger your application e.g. looking up flight costs/options for accommodation… my flat mate and I were up until 3am the morning of the deadline searching airlines and finding courses – probably not advisable!
Despite completing my application literally on the minute of the deadline, after months of waiting (whilst also waiting for exam results…top tip: not great if you get easily stressed) and waiting…
I finally received an email advising that I had been offered my 1st choice!
Since then, the preparations have been endless and I still feel like I have so much to do. I am just about to leave for a 10-day safari holiday to Kenya with my family so I’m going to leave the rest of my Australia organization for future me to sort out when I return…
So, in summary:
- The study abroad fair and other meetings etc. actually are really helpful
- Take time on your application and do a lot of research
- Look into different countries and get excited
You are applying to spend a year studying in a completely new country and culture, which is so exciting! Your passion for your top unis will be evident in your application and act in your favour
That concludes my very condensed recollection of a process that spread over months and that I spend hours planning and researching for – if you are thinking about going away, particularly to Australia, don’t hesitate to message me on Facebook or send me an email (2074638M@student.gla.ac.uk) with any questions.
In my next blog I will let you know what happens when you leave yourself 5 days to prepare before you leave…